27 July 2018

Defining conversions when you’re not selling anything

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A key challenge facing digital marketers within the government sector is measuring success in dollars and cents. How can you go on spending when you don’t know what it has bought you? How can you measure your return on investment when the investment is hefty and the return is, well… ambiguous?

This phenomenon can ultimately make it difficult to garner support for digital investment and justify your existence. Finding a currency that doesn’t include a dollar sign is important. Identifying your currency and understanding how it adds value can help justify your current expenditure, focus your efforts and build your credibility when asking for additional investment. And at the end of the day, reinforce that it’s all been worthwhile.

So, what does a non-fiscal currency look like?

There are many metrics that can form your currency, including traffic (any sort of analytics, e.g. web pageviews, sessions, repeat visits, time on page etc.), sentiment (a measure of how much users like you, e.g. ‘was this webpage helpful?’, social media monitoring of positive/negative/neutral comments), and utility (a measure of how your content is being amplified, e.g. social shares, interactions and tagging).

It’s all well and good to talk about metrics as currency, but what if what you are doing isn’t measurable? If that’s the case, stop. And rethink your content strategy. Success needs to be measurable. It can be as simple as ‘increase traffic to a web page’.

Further, your content strategy should be directed by your audience’s needs and desires. They will decide what they like and what they don’t; what adds value and what is ignored.

If you don’t know your audience is and what they like, start investigating. Start with looking at your social media analytics on demographic make-up – who makes up the largest portion of your Facebook followers, and more importantly who makes up the largest portion of your Facebook engagement? Or, look at your email content that gets the most clicks.

Failing that, ask them. It’s remarkable how much you can glean from a short web survey or Facebook poll.

Now you know what your audience likes and what a successful campaign looks like, it’s time to define your end goal, i.e. your conversion. This conversion should be tangible like an email registration, a document download, or as simple as a hit on a campaign splash page. Defining your marketing effort with a dollar value (advertising spend, microsite build, consultant fees etc.) will enable you to amortise your spend across each conversion. How many conversions? How much did it cost? Voila! You have your ROI.

Compare apples with apples, campaign with campaign. Even after a handful of campaigns, you’ll start to get an idea of what your ROI is on CPM (cost per 1000 impressions, CTR (click-through rate), conversions (e.g. email registration) etc. Report on this, talk in dollars and cents. Everyone understands dollars and cents.

Reporting on your campaigns over time helps you establish what a good ROI is. It will help guide your efforts in planning future, and optimising existing campaigns.

In summary measure what you can, report on what you measure, and ensure your reports show improvement.

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Kieran Clarke

Head Of Digital Engagement, Public Affairs at VicRoads

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